RAMPANT

368 Child Gymnasts Have Alleged Sexual Abuse in 20 Years

At least 368 child gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse at the hands of coaches, gym owners, or other adults working in top U.S. gymnastics programs in the past two decades, an IndyStar investigation spanning nine months has found. The report details examples of 12-year-olds molested by Olympic-level coaches, a 6-year-old photographed nude by a coach, and coaches having sex with 14-year-olds or molesting them through their leotards. IndyStar claims that predatory coaches were given little oversight and could move from gym to gym, preying on young children. The investigation reportedly found that the problem, described as pervasive, has been worsened by a conflict of interest on the part of gym owners. Coaches who are fired, instead of reported by gym owners who fear negative publicity or a loss of business, simply move on to another facility and continue the crimes. The newspaper provided an example of a coach who was forced to resign from six gyms in four states without ever developing a record for the illegal behavior. USA Gymnastics responded to the report in a statement. “Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the board of directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone—coaches, athletes, parents, administrators, and officials,” the statement read. “We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career.”